2011 Toyota Sequoia Limited Review

The Sequoia is the perfect blend of Toyota’s truck-building capability and its passenger car expertise

2011 Toyota Sequoia Limited Review

The 2010 Toyota Sequoia is a big SUV to be sure. It offers everything that an 8-passenger family hauler should, with car-like interior appointments and, surprisingly, rather car-like drivability. The Sequoia comes in three main trims including the base SR5, the Limited and the fully loaded Platinum – with a price to match the SUV’s size. The exterior dimensions and interior storage space are the same for all three models and the various designations come down to a multitude of optional equipment.

FAST FACTS

1. The Sequoia has seating for 8 or can be had with optional second-row captain’s chairs with seating for 7.

2. A 310-hp base 4.6L V8 can be upgraded to a 390-hp 5.7L unit.

3. At best fuel economy is 14/19-mpg (city/hwy) and at worst 13/18-mpg.

4. Cargo room behind the 3rd row is 18.1 cu.-ft., which expands to 66 cu.-ft. with the third row down and a total of 120.1 cu.-ft.

5. The Sequoia has a 7,300 lb tow rating with ground clearance listed as 9.9-inches.

6. An entry price of $39,580 will get you a 2WD model with the 4.6L V8, while the Limited trim runs $49.690 and top-trim Platinum 4WD is just shy of $60,000.

THREE TRIM LEVELS, TWO ENGINES

The SR5 offers a choice in powerplants between the base 4.6-liter 32 valve i-Force V8 that churns out a respectable 310-hp and 327 ft-lbs of torque and the larger 5.7 i-Force that produces a ground pounding 380-hp and a stump pulling 401 ft-lbs of torque.

Our attractive Pyrite Mica (read metallic brown) Limited test model came with the available 4-wheel drive and locking center differential, plus 20-inch aluminum wheels with meaty 275-55 Bridgestone tires. The standard 5.7-liter engine also came equipped with the optional Flex Fuel Vehicle capability.

At 205-inches long, 77-inches tall and 79.9-inches wide, the Sequoia is an imposing presence. Like its smaller siblings in the Toyota SUV line, the Sequoia sports a tall waistline with short side windows and a wide front fascia.  Its large grill, wide front skid plate and block headlights give it a bit of a toothy grin and a downright Tonka Truck look, which is actually quite appealing.

SPACIOUS, WELL APPOINTED CABIN

The interior is inviting if not luxurious, and our test model sported leather seating surfaces throughout. As with so many other elements of the Sequoia, the interior is enormous. The driving position is comfortable in short and long jaunts and offers good visibility of the gauges, although it is a bit difficult at first to get good driving sightlines through the somewhat narrow windshield. The center console with its nifty storage nooks and crannies is simply huge, and the separation between driver and front passenger is enough for just about anybody. 

Thankfully, our test model came equipped with a backup camera and large screen, although the face of the screen does sometimes get washed out by ambient light.  Although the standard 14-speaker JBL Synthesis sound system thunders and thumps impressively in the concert hall sized Sequoia, tuning for stations via the stereo mounted controls requires an awkward reach. Steering wheel mounted audio controls do come standard in all Sequoias, however, the station search function for the available XM radio can be a bit frustrating to use as it searches for groups of stations as opposed to numerically moving up and down the stations.

All of the trim levels of the 2010 Sequoia come with a sliding 40/20/40 second row seat that reclines and folds. The Limited offers an optional seven passenger seating format in which the second row seating position has a center console and two captain’s chairs. Our test model came equipped with the bench second row seating and the power folding third row seating, which offered both reasonable legroom and excellent headroom. The child seat tether and anchors in the second row are very easy to locate and use, and make transferring child seats a well-appreciated ease.

Storage space in the Sequoia seems utterly endless. There is 18.1 cubic feet of space behind the third row seating which is enough for a well placed pair of strollers and a couple of diaper bags. There is just over 66 cubic feet of space behind the second row seats when they are moved forward and the third row is folded down. And finally, there is a cavernous 120.1 cubic feet of room behind the front seats. 

DRIVES LIKE A CAR – WELL, ALMOST

Despite its hefty 5,680-lb curb weight, the Sequoia drives like a much smaller machine in terms of acceleration and handling. The 380-hp 5.7-liter engine and the standard six speed electronically controlled transmission offer excellent power throughout the rev range and make passing maneuvers and freeway merging an easy operation that belie the Sequoia’s considerable heft. 

Power does take fuel, and the Sequoia’s fuel mileage numbers reflect that fact with an EPA estimate of 13-mpg in the city and 18-mpg on the highway. Based on the average fuel economy readout on the Sequoia’s dash, we saw 14-mpg after a combination of urban, rural, and highway routes with both assertive and fuel conscious driving habits.  With a 26.4-gallon tank, a conservative driving approach on the freeway could easily net over a 400-mile range. We did no towing, although the Sequoia is rated with a 7,300 lb towing capacity.

The 2010 Sequoia also handles surprisingly well with a coil sprung four wheel independent double wishbone suspension that offers a real sense of both comfort and confidence. The Sequoia’s dampers seem to just swallow up speed bumps and potholes and handle larger deeper ruts and off road hazards with remarkable aplomb.  The considerable 9.9-inch ground clearance exceeds even that of its off-road-impressive sibling the 4Runner, and makes breaching small streams and rocks a non-event – the center locking differential and Multi Mode 4-wheel drive system were never needed on our brief off-the-pavement excursions.

Considering the interior space enhancing 122-inch long wheelbase of the Sequoia, it exhibits a very impressive 39.2-foot turning radius and parking lot maneuverability makes the Sequoia feel much smaller than it actually is.

Braking with the 4-wheel disc and ABS equipped braking system is predictable and linear even over bumpy surfaces. Brake pedal feel, although somewhat soft, is consistent and provided good confidence. The Sequoia, with its high center of gravity and considerable weight does exhibit the predictable suspension movement and associated dive while braking.

PAYING THE PRICE

A base SR5 Sequoia starts at $39,580 with the 4.6-liter engine and two-wheel drive. Our test model Limited came in at a base $52,915 with the 5.7-liter powerplant, 4-wheel drive, 6-speed automatic transmission, power rear door, power folding third row seats and a host of other standard features. The DVD based navigation and 90 day XM radio subscription bumped the price up another $1,460 and the front skid plate, courtesy deliver charge and a $1,000 dollar “delivery processing and handling fee” bumped the total price to just over $55,000. We were a bit disappointed that the mid $55k range did not include what seem to be some more basic elements like a third row DVD player for longer trips.  

The Platinum starts at $56,180 for the 2-wheel drive and $59,405 for the 4-wheel drive with FFV option.

THE VERDICT

If you can afford it, the Sequoia offers a tremendous amount of utility, comfort and drivability, and is a solid competitor to GMC’s Yukon Denali and the Ford Expedition.

Ultimately it may well come down to something as simple as brand loyalty, but for the savvy buyer driving all makes may be revealing. The sophistication, outward build quality and capability may well make it the choice for those that shop around.

RELATED READING

2010 Nissan Armada Platinum Review

2011 Dodge Durango Review – First Drive

2011 Ford Explorer Review – First Drive [Video]

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review: First Drive

2009 Volvo XC90 Review

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